MSF Observer Network - now open for registration

evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
edited September 2 in Admin Communications
Well-established marathon swimming governing bodies (e.g., CS&PF, CCSF, SBCSA, NYC Swim) have networks of observers and other volunteers to ensure their swims are recorded, verified, and legitimate.

But what about "off-the-grid" swims where there is no local governing body? If a swimmer desires independent observation & verification of his or her swim, whom are they to ask?

If you are interested in making yourself available to observe off-the-grid swims, we invite you to join the MSF Global Observer Database. To join, please complete the online form:

Unless other arrangements are made, observers should assume their travel and lodging will be paid by the swimmer.

Privacy Notice: For now, the database will remain private except to MSF Admins. If there are enough sign-ups, we will develop a method of querying the database for swimmers seeking observers. We will always ask permission before releasing an observer's contact info to a swimmer. The database, including your names, will be non-web-searchable.


  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member
    @evmo, I see on the form that you ask about certifications and training. What do you (and others!) think about someone with no official training signing up to be an observer?

    With that in mind, is there training besides that which the known governing bodies hold? Or, can someone who is already a trained observer come, say, to the DC area, sleep on someone's couch, and train me the potential observer on observing skills?

    (Feel free to move this to a separate observer thread if you want to keep this one "clean")

    Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited September 2013
    Observer training is nice to have, but definitely not a requirement. I believe CCSF & SBCSA run the only such training in the US, so that certification is pretty localized to Southern California. For someone on the East Coast such as yourself, you might look into volunteering as an observer for MIMS or the Ederle Swim...

    Main thing is to have an avid interest in & knowledge of open water swimming. Usually, that means the observer is also an active swimmer.

    Going forward, perhaps we can begin developing a set of online "observer education" materials...
  • SharkoSharko Tomales BayGuest
    edited September 2013

    Maybe you and Sharko need to develop one with all the recent activity....the Bubble Cap Channel swimming association along with Sharko's "get you mind right" swim camp can sponsor the training and certification...

    "I never met a shark I didn't like"

  • malinakamalinaka Seattle, WACharter Member
    Along with this, thoughts on getting a set of "Generic Rules for Unassisted Swims" together?

    Once compiled, we could borrow that "Approved by the Sport of Marathon Swimming" stamp we've heard so much about.

    I don't wear a wetsuit; it gives the ocean a sporting chance.

  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member
    edited October 2013
    This is a great idea!
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited May 2015
    Thank you to all those who have registered with the MSF Observer Database so far.

    To add further clarification to @IronMike's question above:

    - Previous observing experience is not necessary to join the Observer Database.

    - Catalina or English Channel observer training is not necessary to join the Observer Database.

    The primary qualification is an active interest in, and knowledge about, long distance open water swimming. By that standard, any currently active marathon swimmer is qualified to join the database of willing observers.

    We will soon be adding "observer education" materials to the MSF website.

    If a swimmer is undertaking a very high-profile and complicated swim, he/she may prefer highly experienced and well-known observers. In other cases, this may not be as important. It's also possible to pair an experienced observer with a new observer - this is the model used by CCSF and SBCSA.

    My point is - just because you're not an experienced observer, doesn't mean you shouldn't sign up for this database! If you're a member of this Forum, you're probably already a good observer candidate.

    If you live outside Southern California, NYC, or the British Isles, your regional location may be just as valuable as your observing experience. Please don't be shy!
  • SeanSean Member

    just stumbled across this. none of the links work, but i would put myself on that list if it still exists

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited September 2

    @Sean said:
    just stumbled across this. none of the links work, but i would put myself on that list if it still exists

    Thanks for the interest, @Sean. This is not an active project at the moment... it seemed like a good idea at the time (2013) but in practice never quite worked the way it was intended. Too many people interpreted the list as if it represented actual skills or certification, when in reality we have no ability to certify observers (for now).

    The registration form has been shut down for a while, but I'm happy to leave this Forum thread open for anyone who wants to informally express a willingness to observe. Suggested details:

    • name
    • location
    • relevant experience & skills (previous swims observed, marathon swims done, crewing experience, boating license, CPR/First Aid/lifeguarding/paramedic training)
  • SeanSean Member

    I have no experience (yet) in observing....but have some swims that were observed, and fully understand and support the MSF rules. I am in Switzerland.

  • StLucia_ChannelStLucia_Channel Saint Lucia Member

    Thank you @evmo for keeping this thread open.

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